Opera launches Opera Mini 8 (Java app) – a major update inspired by UC Browser?

After a long gap of several months, Opera released Opera Mini 8, a major update to its Java version of mobile web browser recently. Opera numbered it 8, all the way from the last version 7.1, closing the gap between native Android Opera Mini version and Java version. Being a major update, Opera Mini 8 looks and feel completely different from Mini 4.5 – in fact it resembles Opera Mini 7 visually. Furthermore some UI elements (like Menu) and features like “Night mode” in Mini 8 reminds me of UC Browser – the strongest competitor of Opera Mini. Considering the pace of development in mobile web browser arena, Opera is too slow to catch up and the competition is harder than ever today.

Anyway, here is a change-log of what is new in Opera Mini 8 (Java version) –

Opera Min 8 Java

Opera Min 8 Java

The bottom navigation bar has been redesigned with the red “O” icon (for menu) moving to the middle and the color changed to white.

Two more buttons just right to the “O” are – speed dial and tabs. Touching the “8 dot” button will take you to the speed dial screen and the tabs icon will show up thumbnails of all the opened tabs. Just left to the “O” are back and forward buttons.

At the launch screen – there are two tabs, Home and Speed Dial – Home is a portal type live page where you can add content like your social networking feeds, local news, browsing history (in the form of my sites) and some ads. You can turn off the “Home” tab if you want an uncluttered interface (like me)

There is a “Private browsing” option (under Settings menu) which if turned on, allows you to browse anonymously without leaving a trace of your online activity on server or locally on phone.

A new “Night mode” option (under Settings menu) has been added in this version of Opera Mini. When activated, this option dims the brightness of Opera Mini for less strain on the eyes in low light conditions.

The last two features are already parts of the UC Browser from years. So there is nothing to boast about these in Opera Mini 8. Besides the pop up menu of Mini 8 also reminds me of UC Browser; it looks like Opera devs are quite inspired by their closest competitor, adopting its features one by one rather than innovating and setting the trend themselves.

Download manager and speed has been improved (but it is still slower than UC Browser) plus there are several under the hood improvements and bug fixes in the new version of Opera Mini. However Opera still has a lot of work to do to beat the competition (UC Browser).

You can download Opera Mini 8 for Java supporting phones free from m.opera.com
It is compatible with all S40/Asha Nokia phones, Symbian S60v3, S60v5, S^3/Anna/Belle.
If your phone does not support Mini 8 (may not work in low end feature phones) then you can download older versions (v4.5 and 3) of Opera Mini also from m.opera.com

Some facts about Opera Mini – Over 200 million mobile users are happily running Opera Mini worldwide (especially those on limited data plans and using feature phones) and the are many reasons to this –
Opera Mini reduces data transfers considerably by compressing web pages on its server and then renders them perfectly for mobile viewing. This way one can save 50 to 80% data and money.
Page rendering by Opera Mini is best-in-class and no other mobile web browser matches it. Despite compression and rendering at server, web pages look similar to desktop-version.

Fast page loading – Opera Mini is perhaps the second fastest browser (after UC Browser) in terms of page loading time. Opera’s page rendering and server-side compression technology ensures that you get the blazing fast browsing speeds even on slow data networks.

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